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2020 National Merit Semi-Finalists Can Submit either SAT or ACT Scores

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3043 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
Students in the running for National Merit finalist status have always been required to submit SAT scores. Thus those who fared well on the ACT still needed to sit for the SAT, too, if they expected to climb the National Merit ladder.

But starting with the 2020 National Merit competition, students hoping to advance from semi-finalist to finalist can take either the SAT or the ACT, which is a big change that a lot of folks have wanted for a long time.

Although I've long believed that, for the majority of teenagers (and their parents), there's way more ballyhooing over National Merit than it deserves, this is still a milestone worth noting. In particular, it could help to provide scholarship money to good students with bad counseling.

See #10 for more details: https://www.nationalmerit.org/s/1758/interior.aspx?sid=1758&gid=2&pgid=434
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Replies to: 2020 National Merit Semi-Finalists Can Submit either SAT or ACT Scores

  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3043 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    @TheBigChef--Agreed. A lot of kids had to take an extra test unnecessarily over many years or they were bumped off the NM conveyor belt due to inadequate testing. This was particularly unfortunate for students who grew up in areas where the ACT was typically the default test but who didn't have parents helping to oversee their admissions process and were never told by their counselors that they'd need the SAT for National Merit.
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  • janiemirandajaniemiranda 379 replies19 threads Member
    I couldn't seem to find what the ACT confirming score would have to be?
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  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3043 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    @janiemiranda -There has never been a specific SAT cut-off for National Merit so it seems unlikely that there would be one for the ACT. The cut-offs are all for the PSAT scores only, and there are those crazy variations by state that make a lot of parents of young teenagers in Massachusetts consider a move to Mississippi. ;-)
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  • suzy100suzy100 5695 replies58 threads Senior Member
    This is excellent news!

    As far as ACT confirming score, that's a good question. I think in the past on this board we've been able to figure out roughly what the confirming SAT score would be. (Or maybe the National Merit Corporation released that info?) I'd try to find the old threads, and then use the SAT-ACT concordance to get an idea of what a confirming ACT score would be.
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  • hebegebehebegebe 2686 replies38 threads Senior Member
    What wonderful news. S got a great score on last month’s ACT, so no matter what happens with PSAT this week, he will be done! :-bd
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  • justacaringmumjustacaringmum 5 replies0 threads New Member
    My son thinks he did well on his PSAT and with his ACT 35 score, we are hoping he can get to the NMSQT cut-off. He has had ACT training last year and he mentioned that it really helped him with this PSAT. Especially easy tricks to eliminate multiple choice questions.
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  • janiemirandajaniemiranda 379 replies19 threads Member
    Can someone explain how they choose the cutoff number for each state?
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  • hebegebehebegebe 2686 replies38 threads Senior Member
    That is only for the PSAT. It is the score achieved by the top 1% in each state. Confirming score are nationwide.
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  • hebegebehebegebe 2686 replies38 threads Senior Member
    In terms of a confirming score, my guess is that an average of 32 in English, Reading, and Math would be safe. That seems to roughly conform to the 214 selection index that was considered safe last year.
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  • frgivenfrgiven 68 replies7 threads Junior Member
    @hebegebe It really depends on the state. I've heard that some states like California, New York, etc. have Selection indexes of 220+ depending on the year.
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  • hebegebehebegebe 2686 replies38 threads Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Yes, PSAT selection scores vary by state. I was referring to the equivalent selection index for confirming scores, which are nationwide. This is typically very close to the PSAT selection index for the lowest scoring state.
    edited October 2018
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  • KKreisKKreis 31 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Just to be clear, by 2020 we are talking about kids who graduate in 2020, so just took the PSAT/NMSQT?
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  • ReebtoorReebtoor 248 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Yes, @KKreis. Current Juniors.
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  • KKreisKKreis 31 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Thanks, daughter is a junior with a very nice ACT score, and we were dreading the NM stuff because of having to take the SAT to move forward.
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  • LuvsLabsLuvsLabs 271 replies4 threads Junior Member
    edited October 2018
    My son, too! He was bummed to be a semifinalist because he thought he was done with subject tests and the ACT. Now he's sitting for another exam Saturday morning when he should be getting extra rest before playing in his last high school football game that afternoon.

    Poor kids!
    edited October 2018
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  • janiemirandajaniemiranda 379 replies19 threads Member
    From looking at the concordance tables would you think a 33 and up on the ACT would be a confirmation score?
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  • jym626jym626 55816 replies2906 threads Senior Member
    edited October 2018
  • toots13toots13 35 replies0 threads Junior Member
    The SAT confirming score was the same for all semi-finalists and it was lower than the PSAT qualifying equivalent for my son several years ago.
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